A dart-shaped test vehicle with a parachute compartment designed for the Orion crew vehicle was dropped from a C-130 aircraft from 25,000 feet above the Arizona desert to test the entry, descent and landing parachutes in preparation for the Orion vehicle's first orbital flight test set for 2014, the agency said Thursday.
The Orion drogue chutes were deployed at 20,000 feet over the U.S. Army's Yuma Proving Grounds, followed by the pilot parachutes, which then deployed the main landing parachutes.
The test vehicle landed on the desert floor at a speed of around 25 feet per second, well below the maximum designed touchdown speed of the spacecraft, NASA said.
Orion's scheduled 2014 flight, which will send the capsule more than 3,000 miles into space will test a number of its systems, including the avionics, navigation and thermal protection systems, the agency said.
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